Over the next few days, Brett started making changes to his access to the computer systems within the lab and setup his own hidden network, within the lab's computer network. He set up some back door passwords to the computer system within the lab. Once he had that set up, he set up a link that he could use at home to access the computer system.
While he worked his computer magic, he also continued on with his own research. At home he activated his backdoor program and started doing some snooping around the lab systems. He found that all of the systems were protected by a strong security program. He started working on breaking into the systems from his home computer.
At work his own research started to show success in the computer models that he ran. Each successful computer model experiment led to the next step along in his research. Each success also caused him to be optimistic that he was on the right track. As the successes mounted he finally started to close in on many of the genetic markers that governed brain development.
On the computer front, Brett had been able to hack into nearly all the computers in the complex. The computers that he had gotten access to were in the various labs within the complex. He was able to see what some of the others were working on. Some of that information in fact helped him in his own research. He did feel a little guilty about snooping in their work, but he knew that those of the researchers who had become his friends would have given him the information if he had asked for it. He continued to work on breaking through the security on the other computers from his home office. Each time he was in the computer system he was able to wipe out his tracks when he left the system.
Brett's successes in his computer model experiments, led him to look deeper into the limbic system of the brain and how its components, the thalamus, hypothalamus, amygdala and hippocampus communicated with the rest of the brain and how it helped the various structures of the brain communicate with each other. One of the other parts of this system, such as the pituitary gland, regulated hormones throughout the body which helps to regulate other body processes, like metabolism.
He was encouraged by this and further work led him to believe that he could be successful in human experiments if he made the changes soon after conception. After reaching that conclusion, he sat on the idea and mulled it over for about a week while he ran further computer model experiments. Finally, he decided that he needed to talk to his friends at the lab and bounce an idea that he had about how to prove his theory.
On Monday at the lab, he made his way around to talk to his friends. He invited them all to his house for a little get together on Saturday. For those whose spouse didn't work at the lab, as most of them did, they were of course invited as well. He continued with his computer model experiments. Each one cemented in his mind that he was on the right track.
On a Saturday afternoon in November, the eight couples were relaxing after the meal that Brett and Kathy had prepared and were enjoying some wine and beers as they talked in the den. As they sat there discussing their work, Brett contributed little to the discussion and mostly looked at his friends as he tried to gauge how they would react to the suggestion that he wanted to present to them.
Russ Merrill looked over at Brett, "So Brett, what about you? How is your work going?"
Brett didn't say anything right away and in fact was gazing in the distance when Russ asked him the question and had not heard him. The others slowly became quiet as they realized Brett seemed to be somewhere else. His seemed to be deep in thought. Kathy leaned over to him and nudged him slightly.
He looked up and saw everyone was looking at him, "What?"
"I asked about what you've been working on and how it's going."
"Oh. Uh, good, yeah, pretty good actually."
He looked at them and when his gaze got to Kathy, she gave him a slight nod.
"Well, uh, that is kind of what I asked you here for. I wanted to talk to you about it."
Brett paused for a few moments, still a little nervous about what he was about to suggest to them. He saw the interest on their faces as they waited. He took a drink before he stood up. "Do you guys mind if I stand? I sometimes think better when I do."
He saw some nods from the others and he moved so he was in front of them as if he was making a presentation, which in essence he was.
"I have had several successes with the computer model experiments that I have run and I have cause to believe that what I have found in my research is achievable."
"So, some good news then?"
Brett looked at Patrick, "Well, I've actually been working on something on a different tangent than what the rest of you are working on. I've been working on enhancing normal brain function."
"Well, I know this may seem hard to believe, but I believe that I have found a way to help a person make use of more of their brain. We know that only a small percent of the brain is actively used by a person. I believe I've found a way to increase the percentage of the brain that a person can actively use and control."
"What do you mean control?"
Brett looked over at Charles when he asked that, "Well I'm not completely sure, but I have been focusing on the limbic system and how it has control over so much of the body and the brain. I believe such a person that has greater control of this area, could affect his body so that it would run more efficiently and would be able to more easily recall something that they had learned, like a person who has eidetic or photographic memory."
"So how do you make these changes Brett?"
"Well, from what I've discovered, it has to be done on the genetic level to be most effective. In fact, I don't think it can be done any other way."
They were all silent as they pondered what he had said. Charles was the first to speak, "Genetic level you say. At what genetic level?"
"Soon after conception would be best."
"By the introduction of an enzyme into the mix of cells that will form the fetus. This enzyme will bind with the stem cells that will eventually form the brain."
"So what is the next step?"
"I need to move forward into human trials."
"Does Dr. Hunt know about this?"
"He knows what I am working on, but not where I am with it."
"So when are you planning on moving forward with this?"
"I'm ready to move forward now."
"Now? How, when Dr. Hunt doesn't even know where you're at? Doesn't he need to be informed on this?"
"John, and well all of you, Kathy and I have discussed this and we're going to try the process with our child. This is my baby and I have autonomy in what I do with this."
"Are you sure that's a good idea, Brett?"
"I am completely certain Cheryl. What's more, I want to ask if all of you would like to be part of the experiment. From what I have found so far, the worst that I believe will happen is that there will be no change in the child. So far nothing points toward any disability."
"How can you be certain of the result?"
"I've introduced as many variables as I can into the computer models that I've run, but once I discovered this enzyme, I have had no failures. The only thing left now is human trial."
"And you're betting the life of your child on this?"
Brett looked at Kathy and she nodded before speaking up, "Yes. I believe in Brett and the two of us have discussed this at length. We are going to try soon and I believe our child will benefit from this."
The others were silent as they thought about what Brett had presented to them. They also were thinking about the implications of what he and Kathy had decided to do in regards to their future child. They believed that the risks were great, even though Brett was very optimistic about the eventual success.
Stephanie's voice broke the silence, "You do know the potential risks that you take on in doing this?"
Brett glanced at Kathy and both of them nodded. Kathy was the one who spoke first, "Steph, Brett and I have talked about this at length over the last week. I trust that he will be successful and we're willing to try it."
"But what if something goes wrong? You might have a baby that is born with a birth defect rather than a baby that has this enhancement that you believe you will achieve."
"Before implantation, I believe that I will be able to see if the enzyme that I add has been absorbed into the cells. Once the cells are implanted, Kathy will be examined to make sure that they take and then we will do an early amnio to check for abnormalities to the chromosomes that would signify a defect. We will do subsequent amnio exams and ultrasound exams to track the progress of the pregnancy and to keep a close eye out for any problems that might arise."
"What if a defect is detected?"
"Abortion is a possibility, but not a certainty. We have decided to take a chance and only cross that bridge if we come to it."
"How certain are you that this will work?"
"I have been working exclusively on this experiment for months now and over the last few weeks, the computer models that I have run, along with the experiments with animal embryos that I have done have shown continuous success. The enzyme I've discovered has been absorbed easily by the developing cells. I am 95% confident that I will achieve success."
"What is this enzyme that you keep referring to?"
"It figures you would be the one to ask that question Charles." There was some chuckling from the others before Brett continued. "I don't have a name for it. It is kind of a super enzyme, I suppose you could call it. I combined some DNA manipulation enzymes to produce this one enzyme. It seems stable and my experiments have so far not shown any issues with the positive effect it has on the genetic outcome. However, I will only know for sure once I proceed with the human trial."
Brett allowed them to think as he went to sit with Kathy before he continued. "The reason that I asked you if you wish to be part of this, is because all of us are younger than 35, which increases the likelihood of in vitro fertilization success. The only thing that I didn't know is if any of you wanted children. That was my only variable."
"Would it be possible to look at your data?"
"Sure Charles, from you guys I have no secrets on this. I'm willing to show you what you want to know, so you can make an informed decision on this. I really want you, my friends, to be a part of this. I think the children that will result will be something special."
"Brett, Stephanie and I will have to discuss it and we have been thinking about having kids now that our careers on doing well. I would like to see the data."
There were several others who agreed with Charles on wanting to see it as well. Brett nodded.
"Why don't each of you that wish to see it, come and see me this week and I will show you my results. Just let me know. Although I don't want to really advertise this yet, so if you could keep it to one or two of you at a time, so we don't have this big crowd of people all trying to see my computer screen at the same time."
Everyone agreed with the plan and said their goodbyes for the night. As each couple drove home they discussed Brett's plan. All of them agreed to hold back a decision until they had seen the data. After that, they would decide.
Throughout the week, Brett had a stream of researchers coming to the lab he was working in. They came in ones or two's. Each called him first to see if he was available for a consult. Each stayed with him for an hour or two as he ran through his data for them. Some stayed a little longer. Others such as Eric and Will, stayed for a shorter time because as they said, "We're just computer geeks, we don't understand all this genetics stuff. What we really wanted to find out is if you found anything yet in the system."
Brett lowered his voice a little before he answered their question. "Nothing much yet. I haven't found the source of the key logger yet, but I will. I've been working from home on it, instead of here. I've been kind of busy working on this to do any snooping."
"Okay, we'll talk to you later Brett."
Brett nodded and went back to what he was doing. The parade of his friends continued until everyone had seen the results of his research to their satisfaction. Over the weekend and throughout the next week, none of their friends said anything about what they thought about what he had shown them. By the end of the week he figured that he knew their answer and he planned to talk to Kathy over the weekend about going ahead with the experiment.
Brett and Kathy had just finished cleaning up after dinner when the doorbell rang. He went to the door and when he opened it he saw his friends out front. John and Christine were closest and they had a couple of bottles of wine in their hands, "Hi, Brett. Mind if we come in?"
Brett nodded to John and stepped aside to let everyone in. Kathy greeted everyone as they came in the house. John and Christine started opening the bottles, while Kathy got wine glasses out for everyone. No one said anything while they were getting their glasses. Brett sensed that he should say nothing yet and just wait until one of his friends said something. When he saw that everyone had a glass, he led them to the den and stood in front of the fireplace waiting. Kathy came up and joined him as she took his hand in hers.
Russell broke the silence, "Brett, thanks for being so open about showing us your research. We all have been talking amongst ourselves over the last week. Everyone has given their opinions on what you propose after seeing your research. I'll be frank with you, some have reservations, but…..we've decided to take part in the experiment."
Brett let out a breath that he hadn't even realized that he had been holding.
"Thank you everyone. I promise you won't be sorry. I know in my heart that I'm right about this. It will work. Our kids are going to be special."
"Okay, when do we start?"
"Well first thing, Kathy, Cheryl, do you know a Gyn doc that you trust?"
Kathy and Cheryl exchanged looks and shrugged.
"Not really. I mean I know some but, none that well."
Brett frowned as he thought about what else to do when Julia spoke up.
"I know someone. I have a friend at the hospital who is a Gyn. We became friends after I helped her daughter after she had injured her knee playing soccer."
Brett thought about it and nodded.
"Do you think she would be willing to do the procedure to extract the eggs from each of you for us and perhaps keep it under wraps? You know keep it to herself and no questions? We'll also need her to implant the fertilized eggs once they are ready."
Julia was silent as she thought about it for a few moments before she nodded.
"I think so. She's good people. I don't think that will be a problem, besides there's the whole doctor patient thing too. So I think we can trust her."
"Okay, then, do you think you could talk to her in the next few days and then let us know what she says? If she agrees I would like to move forward as soon as we can. As for us, we guys can take care of our….contribution at the lab whenever it's convenient."
That got some laughs from the guys.
"As soon as we have everything we need, then I'll start. I'd like to have everyone do their part within a day or two of each other so that everyone is on the same level when we start."
There were nods of agreement from everyone and for the rest of the evening they talked about what he expected from the research.
Early the next week, Julia came into Brett's lab.
"She said yes. I could tell she was curious, but she respected my request to not ask questions."
"Great, then let's plan to harvest the eggs on Monday and Tuesday next week. We will take care of our part and I'll start the process by next Wednesday or Thursday. Once I'm sure everything is proceeding as planned, we'll be ready to implant by the next Monday. Then off we go."
Julia got the okay from Dr. Linart for Monday and Tuesday. The appointments were set up and all of the women had their eggs extracted successfully. Julia transported them to the lab on Wednesday and after the men contributed their share he was ready to start. By Thursday afternoon, all of the petri dishes were set up, he added the enzyme, and set them aside for a few days to allow them to do their stuff. Everyday Brett checked the progress of the cells as they continued to divide and grow. The others were anxious as well and kept checking with him on how it was going. If it wasn't them, then it was their spouses who didn't work at the lab asking them to check on things.
Brett was able to give everyone good reports and everything looked good when Monday came around. Brett brought the embryos to Dr. Linart and each of the women had the embryos implanted. Now it was a waiting game to see if the all of the embryos would be viable. Because it was for an experiment, Brett checked with each of the ladies every couple of weeks to see how they were feeling and what changes if any they experienced during the pregnancy. All of them had some form of morning sickness. At five weeks, the women who worked at the lab let it be known that they were pregnant. At twelve weeks the ladies had their first ultrasound exams and all of the babies were looking good and seemed to be growing at the proper rate.
At the lab it was now obvious that the six women that worked at the lab were pregnant. There were congratulations from the others at the lab. The morning sickness had pretty much abated by this time. Brett continued his interviews with them every week or so. For the two women who worked outside the lab, Kathy and Cheryl, he interviewed them at his home, instead of having them come into the lab, because he didn't want to go through the whole security thing for them to visit. Besides, he still had not told Dr. Hunt that he had started human trials with his theory. He wasn't ready to do that just yet.
The results of the interviews merely told Brett that the pregnancies were proceeding as expected. One thing he did note was that the effects of the pregnancies tended to be milder than what was average for most women from what he had read on the subject. He wasn't sure if that was significant but he noted it in his file on each of them within his file on the overall experiment. So far he was encouraged by what he saw.
At the sixteen weeks, all of the women went in for an amniocentesis. This was a critical point in the experiment. At this point they would see if there were any birth defects in any of the growing babies. The procedures were performed and they all waited patiently for the results. It took a couple of weeks before they heard anything. They passed their results on to Brett and he read through each result and noted the results in his files. All of them were negative for any detectable abnormalities. Brett knew that it didn't entirely mean there would be no problems, but he was encouraged since the test had a 99% chance of a successful result.
The next important stage of the experiment was the next ultrasound at twenty weeks. At this point the gender of the baby could be determined fairly easy and Brett asked each couple if they would request that information from the doctor. If the couple did not really want to know, he did ask if they would ask the doctor to put the answer into a sealed envelope and give it to them. He suggested that they tell the couple the reason for the sealed envelope was because they weren't sure if they wanted to know or not and wanted to talk about it to decide whether they wanted to know or not. If they decided that they wanted to know they could open the envelope, if not, they could shred it and then no one would know and it would be a surprise when the baby was born.
Only two of the couples didn't want to know and they gave Brett the sealed envelopes. All of the results went something like it was for Brett and Kathy. Brett sat next to the exam table while the exam was performed. The ultrasound tech moved the probe over the gel on Kathy's belly as she took pictures of various parts of the baby. The monitor was turned so that they could see it. Brett was in awe as he watched the images of the baby in the monitor. She showed them its little heart beating and they could see fingers, arms, and the profile of its head. As she moved down the body, she stopped and moved the probe back toward the heart. She looked at them and smiled.
"Do you want to know if it's a boy or a girl?"
Brett and Kathy exchanged a look. Kathy knew that Brett wanted to know this so she smiled slightly and looked back at the technologist and nodded. The tech smiled and moved the probe back down and started moving it around until finally the baby spread its legs and they could see the answer plain as day. The tech looked at them.
"Well, I guess you can tell as well as I can. Congratulations, it's a boy."
Brett and Kathy's eyes had tears in them as they continued to gaze at the picture as the tech finished the scan and cleaned Kathy up. When she left the room so that Kathy could get dressed, she and Brett shared a tender kiss.
"Our son," That was all Brett needed to say. That was something Brett had suspected but was not sure of until now. Every one of the babies was a boy. His computer model experiments had shown him that the likelihood that the babies would be boys was very high. So he had suspected it would happen. He believed that this super enzyme that he had discovered was the reason that they would be boys. He didn't know why yet, but that is what his research had told him. Soon all of the parents were talking about their boys and being the researchers that they were, they came to realize that it seemed unusual that every single one of them was having a boy. In fact, at one of their get togethers that information caused the two couples who had wanted to be surprised to finally break down and ask Brett. It was Barbara and Russell who broke down first.
"Okay Brett, Barb and I have talked and we've decided that we want to know what our baby is."
Brett cocked an eyebrow and gave a friendly smirk.
"Are you sure?"
"Okay, if you're sure. It's a boy."
"We suspected as much. Barbara said he kicks like mule."
The other couples laughed. Brett glanced at the other hold out couple, Derrick and Christine, with a questioning look. They looked at each other, she sighed and nodded. They looked at Brett.
"I think I know what you're going to say, so go ahead."
Brett had an amused look on his face and nodded.
"It's a boy."
Charles looked at him shrewdly, "You knew didn't you? You knew that they would all be boys."
Brett sort of shrugged, "I don't know if "knew" is the right word. More like….highly expected, might be a more correct term. The computer models I ran suggested that the super enzyme tended to cause the embryo to start the changes that would affect the cells such that the baby being male was highly likely. I never told you that, because until this point, I wasn't sure enough without proof. Highly likely it would be a boy also could mean slightly likely it would be a girl."
"So we're all going to have boys. Well, if you think about it, we'll have enough to almost form our own baseball team."
Wyatt's words brought more laughter from the others. They continued to talk more about it as the evening continued.
One day during the next week, Brett was in the lab working at his computer when Dr. Hunt came in. When he spoke Brett was mildly startled because he had been concentrating on what he was working on and he jumped when Richard spoke. Richard held out his hands in apology.
"Sorry Brett, I didn't mean to startle you. How're things going with your experiment?"
"Not too bad Richard."
"Oh, so you've made some progress?"
"Why don't we go to my office and talk? I'd like to hear about it."
Brett nodded and followed Richard. They left the main building and strolled over to the older building where the offices were, exchanging pleasantries. He asked how Kathy was doing and made small talk. When they got to Richard's office he motioned for Brett to sit down while he sat behind his desk.
"So, tell me about it."
Brett gathered his thoughts before speaking.
"Well, a few months ago, I had been running some computer models to see if what I had theorized was possible. I also started doing some animal studies and found something. I call it a super enzyme, since it is something I came up with by combining the parts of other enzymes. I found that in animal embryos, it seemed to combine harmlessly with the dividing cells of the embryos. I studied the embryos as they continued to divide and grow and I saw that it seemed to cause no harm to the embryo. I decided to move to the next step."
Dr. Hunt looked at him and his eyes widened.
"You moved forward to a human trial?"
Brett nodded a little nervously before talking quickly to explain why he chose to do that. "What I found in the computer models was that the best chance for my success would be if I started at or just after conception. Everything is developing at that time and the cells are getting their instructions as to how to form into the appropriate stem cells that will eventually form the various parts of the body. Animal embryos could only get me so far, so I…."
Dr. Hunt nodded and interrupted him, "So you gathered some volunteers from people that you knew and we now have six pregnant researchers, plus your wife of course, so seven pregnant women."
"Eight. Patrick's wife Cheryl is pregnant too."
Dr. Hunt again nodded as he filed that. He absorbed that information before asking his next question, "So what are the results so far?"
"Everything is normal and proceeding as expected. We have done ultrasound exams and all of them have had an Amnio. No abnormalities or defects detected. So far all of them appear to be well on the way to becoming healthy babies when they are born."
"And when do you expect that to happen?"
"Around August 6th."
He frowned at Brett a little, "You know Brett, I would have preferred that you had talked to me before you moved forward with this."
Brett nodded, "Yes, sir. I was only given a year to see if I could make this work and I was running out of time, so I wanted to take the chance. All the preliminary work pointed toward success, so I decided to go for it. I thought it would take too long to get approval."
"If something had gone wrong, we could have been held liable, because you did not get approval beforehand. You're sure that there are no complications with these pregnancies?"
"Yes. Although I can't say with 100% surety that nothing will go wrong between now and then, but I am reasonably sure that there will be eight healthy babies come August 6th."
"Very well. What do you expect to be the result of this experiment?"
"I'm not entirely sure and it may be a few years before we know for sure, but I believe that these boys will be more intelligent that others of their age group. I don't know if that means they will be geniuses or if they will merely be above average in intelligence. I also expect that because of this, they will also pick up and understand concepts easier and faster than their peers. Again I don't know to what level, but I believe this will be the main result of the experiment."
Dr. Hunt was silent as he leaned back in the chair. Brett waited him out.
"Okay, keep me informed on what you find out and please, next time talk to me first before you do something like this."
When he stood up he had a smile on his face as he held out his hand. Brett gave him an answering smile. Inside he felt relief. It appeared that the boss was okay with this.
"Thanks Richard. I will next time, you have my word."
"Good enough. Well done."
Brett left the office. As he walked down the hall he met Marcus Kelly coming the other way and they greeted each other. Marcus asked about Kathy and how she was doing. Marcus patted him on the back as they parted and wished the two of them good luck. Brett smiled a little as he made his way back to the main building. He ran into Patrick as he neared his lab.
Brett looked around and pulled him to the side of the corridor.
"Richard knows about the experiment. He asked me for an update and he put a few things together as we talked, so I admitted what was going on. He was okay with it, except he did ask that I talk to him first before doing it the next time."
"Whew, that's good. So he was okay with it?"
"Yep, so everything's okay for now. He was worried about something going wrong that might cause the lab to be liable."
"Nothing's going to go wrong, right?"
"Nothing, so far everything seems to be great, so we're fine."
"Okay then. See you later."
Brett headed to his lab with a bit of relief that Richard seemed to be okay with everything. He finished up with everything for the day and shut down his computer.
Early that evening before he left for the day, Marcus was sitting in his office putting things away and getting ready to log out of his computer, when his phone rang. He picked it up and Dr. Merrick was on the other end.
"Good evening Alastair…..yes…..good….you did what?....Oh…and what did you find…………really…..I just saw him here earlier over here. It looked like he just left Dr. Hunt's office…….yes, I agree, that is interesting…..I'm leaving for the evening, but if you could drop the disc off tomorrow, I would appreciate it……yes, thanks for your assistance….bye."
Marcus sat back with his fingers drumming on the desktop. He then sat forward and started typing on his computer. He pulled up a password protected program and when the files in the program came up, he scanned through them until he found one marked "Lab Office Cameras". He opened that and activated another program. In the search field he entered 'Richard's office' and hit enter. The program went to work and stopped. He entered a start time and then scrolled quickly through the video that played until he saw Brett enter the office. He backed up a little and hit play and he soon could hear the conversation between Richard and Brett from earlier in the day. He nodded as he listened to it. He made some notes in a new file as he listened. When it was over, he logged out and shut down the computer. He was looking forward to seeing what Alastair had copied from Dr. MacLeod's computer. If it was what he suspected, he would need to meet with Hank Archer at the GRA headquarters and let him know.